Physical education policy and practice in Queensland primary schools, 1970-1993

Walmsley, Howard Richard (1999). Physical education policy and practice in Queensland primary schools, 1970-1993 PhD Thesis, School of Human Movement Studies, The University of Queensland.

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Author Walmsley, Howard Richard
Thesis Title Physical education policy and practice in Queensland primary schools, 1970-1993
School, Centre or Institute School of Human Movement Studies
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 1999
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor -
Total pages 374
Language eng
Subjects 130210 Physical Education and Development Curriculum and Pedagogy
210303 Australian History (excl. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander History)
740102 Primary education
Formatted abstract This thesis investigates the development and implementation of curriculum policies and practices for physical education in Queensland primary schools from 1970 to 1993 when it was widely reported that there was a 'national crisis' in physical education. The starting point for the research was the 1972 Queensland primary school health and physical education policy document which was developed by staff of the Department of Education in the early 1970s. In 1993, when this research was initiated, this policy document was still current and it remained current when this thesis was completed in late 1998. In addition to this intriguing phenomenon, there are technical, political and practical questions as to how this syllabus document can remain current for over 25 years. Answers to these questions focus on identifying the process by which curriculum policies for primary school physical education were developed and or reviewed in Queensland; how primary school physical education policies were received by teachers and others; and, whether physical education in Queensland primary schools was achieving the best outcomes for students.

The characteristics of the problem and the broader aims of the research initially suggested that a 'critical' approach would be the most appropriate research paradigm for this study. Following further investigation of the problem a multiparadigmatic approach was adopted. In this approach, research of the empirical-analytic, interpretive, and critical paradigms were regarded as complementary rather than as competing or alternative. The outcome in research terms is a level of synthesis which could not be achieved through the application of a single paradigm and it provides a more complex set of understandings which describe and explain the interplay of technical, political and moral issues underpinning the development and implementation of policy and practice for physical education in Queensland primary schools from 1970 to 1993.

The findings from this study provide evidence that staff of the Queensland Department of Education, and others, had made repeated attempts over 23 years to replace the 1972 document. These attempts failed to reach full-implementation. Those failures were due to a number of factors including the limited involvement of classroom teachers and teacher educators and a wider failure in the political process of policy formulation and implementation. The findings of this research provide explanations and understandings of the policy development process which, if applied, could lead to a resolution of the policy development problems.

The roles of practitioners in policy implementation presented other problems. Classroom teachers, and others, responded to policy documents in a variety of ways from outright rejection, through partial implementation, to full acceptance. However, practice across the state never reached an optimal standard and there was a continuing resistance, at all levels, to both the 1972 document and subsequent attempts to rehabilitate or replace it. This and a number of other significant issues that have been identified through the research will need to be addressed in a coherent way if physical education curriculum policy and practice is to be developed and delivered in a manner which is both technically efficient, professionally rewarding and relevant for the lives of children in this state.
Keyword Physical education for children -- Queensland -- History

 
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